Happy Easter everyone!
I especially picked this Dali painting for today, because of Dali’s unique interpretation of the crucification of Christ.
So what makes Dali’s painting “Christ of Saint John of the Cross unique?
Dali painted this work in 1951 and claimed that he based it on a “cosmic dream” he had the year before and even explained some of the choices he made that set this work apart from other paintings of the crucification of Christ.
“In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the ‘nucleus of the atom.’ This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it ‘the very unity of the universe,’ the Christ!”
The same dream revealed to him the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting. The dream also convinced him to leave out traditional attributes that one would expect to see in a traditional crucification of Christ: nails, blood, a crown of thorns. He was convinced that this would ruin his painting. He also made the call to not show us Christ face. Usually there is alot of focus on Christ face during his crucifications. Some depict him as brave others as slightly sad, some plagued, some stoic but it tends to be the central theme of the crucification. The point of the painting is not to convince the public that this event happend but rather to influence how we feel about this person that is said to have died for our sins. Do we feel compassion towards him ? Do we feel grateful? Do we admire him or pity him? For western europeans it may not seem very relevant anymore, but the movie hit Passion of the Christ clearly shows that there still exists an audience that is interested in this theme.
Dali based his painting on this drawing by a 16th century artist called Saint John of the Cross:
Especially the type of cross, the objectification of Christ and the extreme angle aThere similar though not exactly the same.
Dali had actually trouble figuring out how exactly a body would look on a cross in such an extreme angle, but he came up with a radicial solution: he paid a hollywood stuntman to be suspended from an overhead gantry crane in order to study how the body should look.
Dali’s work was very controversial at the time. Some said that his work had nothing to do with religion at all and that it was just a cheap trick to get attention. This is most likely not the case though. It is true that Dali is and was very famous for being a surrealist but Salvador Dali returned to his catholic faith in 1949 because of the poetry of Saint John of the Cross. Yes the very same Saint John of the Cross that made the drawing that inspired Dali to paint this painting. Salvado Dali didnt like the reasoning of people that one had to choose between science or religion. One can find elements of both in Dali’s works. He loves geometry and was very interested in quantum physics. He explained this seemingly contradiction as follows:
“not a single philosophic, moral, aesthetic or biological discovery allows the denial of God.”
This isn’t Dali’s only religious work either. Another famous painting shows The Last Supper. I thought I might as well show that one as well since it is related to easter (better late than never!).
Again this painting is a wonderful mixture between surrealism and religion. And again the painting had a lot of haters in the beginning, but Dali cried all the way to the bank :).
Here is a link as well where the discuss the meaning of the painting as well. They even discuss why he painted it so sunny :). (You’ll have to see it to find out for yourself 🙂
I hope you guys liked to read about Dali as much as I loved to do the research 🙂